Last Friday, my soon-to-be ex had “The Talk” with my 7 year old step-daughter. “The Talk” meaning the “Benee and I are not married anymore” talk.
We had previously agreed that we would sit her down and tell her together, so that we could both express our love for her and for our family, and reassure her that it was nothing that she did. He’d picked her up from home (I’m usually the one who does that since I have the car) and met me in Manhattan. Our plan was to pick up the boy and spend a nice family evening together. When I called him to see where they were, he said, “I need you to get out of the car and give J a big hug because I had “the talk” with her.” Immediately, I was angry. How could he do that without me? He explained that she was asking questions and he felt he had to answer them. He said that she was crying and asking what happened, why was this happening. My heart was breaking as he spoke, but I got out of the car and as they approached, I grabbed her and gave her a big hug.
In those moments, I held her close and I felt broken. All of the pain of everything that led to this point of having “the talk” came rushing back and I was hurt, sad, angry, bitter, and depressed all at once. But, I knew that I had to put on a strong front, a happy face, and be supportive of her needs at the time. I admit I was hurt and disappointed that he talked to her without me, but then I understood that he felt the need to ease his daughter’s confusion and I allowed him that.
We had a good family evening. She’d been asking why sometimes she stayed with her daddy at grandpa’s house and why sometimes she stayed with me and her brother, without daddy. It was time to explain and I think we put it off for so long because we had not yet tied up our loose ends. We didn’t want to confuse her until we were absolutely positive things we done with us.
And they are.
So now, the next task is handling the more sensitive task of ensuring that the 3 year old boy comes to some understanding of the situation. At least, whatever his 3 year old mind can handle. He seems to have a confused sense of “home” and that troubles me. This past weekend, he called me “Abuela” at least 5 times. “Abuela! Ummmm Mommy…” was how he started several sentences. That troubles me because I already have issues with the choice we made to have him stay with his father and grandparents during the week and me on weekends. I don’t want to disturb his amazing development as a little intelligent, funny, precocious boy. I’ve read the statistics about the effects of “broken homes” on young people and we’re doing what we can to counter the negative effects by wrapping him up with the love of extended family.
But I’m still his mommy. And I’m still her “other” mother, as she has always known me to be. I over think the future, especially since her father is already focused on the woman he wants to be his next wife. I overthink how maybe, eventually, I will become obsolete to her. Will she still think of me as her second mommy? Or will his new wife replace me and that precious position I’ve held for the last 4.5 years? Will she even remember these early years and all of the love and attention I gave her? Will she remember who taught her how to shop and coordinate her outfits, who did her hair on the weekends, who took her to get her nails done? Will I just be her brother’s mother after this new woman has replaced my position as her father’s wife?
It hurts, at times, when I think of the effect this has and will have on our children. They are so young, so innocent. This is such a huge period of adjustment and I feel we have a lot of careful work to do to make sure they don’t lose their sense of safety and stability. I admit, I’m nervous… I don’t know what to do, how to be….
And that scares the crap out of me.